Robert Bloomfield: 3rd December 1766, his birthday

Three poems by Robert Bloomfield:

Solitude  /   The Shepherd and his dog Rover   /   Winter Song

Bloomfield was an early and on going inspiration to John Clare.  They exchanged many letters and were friends though never met.  He was born in Suffolk, worked for a while in London but was forced to move when the business failed.  Lived finally for some years, and died, in Shefford.  His house is marked with a plaque.


                                     The Shepherd and his dog Rover

                                               Winter Song


Winter with the Poets (1)

Winter  with the poets

tree frosty trees viewAnother season, another page.



First time here for the poems by W.C.W. and Hardy but a re-visit for Jean Whitfield.



Winter Trees                                       by  William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details

of the attiring and

the disattiring are completed!

A liquid moon

moves gently among

the long branches.

Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.



The Darkling Thrush                        by  Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate

When Frost was spectre-grey,

And Winter’s dregs made desolate

The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

Had sought their household fires.


The land’s sharp features seemed to be

The Century’s corpse outleant,

His crypt the cloudy canopy,

The wind his death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

Seemed fervourless as I.


At once a voice arose among

The bleak twigs overhead

In a full-hearted evensong

Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,

In blast-beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

Upon the growing gloom.


So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

And I was unaware.




Winter yard                                          by Jean Whitfield


First a solid river that swans slapped

Warming ice with rapid feet

a courtyard with a bench, an unlit lamp

and long thin runnels between the polished cobbles

which silent water painted grey

and lay there dark with buildings.


Then the sun shone suddenly

and balconies broadcast wrought iron tendrils

over frozen water become sprinkled heaps of gemstones


and a long black window opened

for a woman’s arm to put out a pot of flowers

to spread the place with red and gold.



With thanks to Bakery Press for Winter Yard.

Clare’s sonnet on Trespassing

This sonnet is from the Peterborough MS A61.   It is published in the paperback:  John Clare, Northborough Sonnets, edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and PMS Dawson.  Published by Carcanet Press.   My copy was published in 1995. Paperback at £9.95. I picked this one as it fits with ‘The Trespasser’ image that was proposed in an earlier Graph Review of Goodridge and Thornton’s “Clare, The Trespasser’.  This title dealt with one of his earliest poems:  ‘Narrative Verses’ written 1824/5 and briefly highlights his trespassing on enclosed land and his fear of discovery although much of the poem follows Clare’s description of an actual walk through countryside near Helpstone. This sonnet, written some eleven or twelve years later is a more mature memory on what seems regular trespassing rather than of his first.   There is the same disquiet at the trespassing itself but in the sonnet John Clare uses the ‘stranger’ to reflect his own feelings of being fearful but also the ‘kinder’ person of an understanding in his following the paths he wanted.  You could also extrapolate the ‘knowing smile’ into a secret collusion of trespassing against property owners.   One assumes the ‘stranger’ is literally that to Clare and the ‘kinder’ likely to be someone who knows him and his ways…… and accepts or agrees. Trespassing could be quite dangerous as gamekeepers could have been serious in efforts to catch any level of trespassing.  They might use dogs, guns, man-traps or hired-help (thugs) in order to stop or catch trespassers in case they were intending to poach or steal anything on that property……  (such as rabbit and fowl, wildlife)  as absolutely everything was considered to be owned by the landholder.  Court penalties could also be very severe……. In Narratives, Clare’s appreciation (even wonder) of his natural surroundings is initially greater than his fear of discovery but he is very relieved to regain the official highway.   With the sonnet he appears as concerned; repetition having made it easier.  The last two lines of the sonnet would bear further interpretation and offer some insight to Clare’s make-up.  He points out that he is poor and yet always has a feeling of companionship in his walks in the countryside, especially off the beaten track which he loved so much. Maybe this is a more traditional style sonnet than many others of his.  He was well aware of style and format etc but was most often inclined to weave his own verses in or out of mode.  His poem, his style! During the time he spent at Northborough Clare wrote 213 sonnets.  It was one of his most prolific periods, between the years 1832 and 1837.  The book’s introduction points out that Clare was forming, and ‘polishing’, the sonnets  into a form for publication.  This particular sonnet is one of many from 1836/37 period
Obviously I would recommend getting a copy of the book just for reading the sonnets.  As with any thoroughly researched book this contains an introduction that talks of Clare and his work.  On his sonnets it probably   presupposes a little knowledge of his work and period.  Though it need not be deep, it is useful.  An additional set of notes is at the back plus a glossary of a fair number of words or names that might need clarification.  Lastly is an index of first lines and titles (only a few in italics), and some which includes an asterisk where not previously published in ‘accessible form’.    The 83 sonnets collected are in (likely) chronological order of writing.

Closer to Armistice Day (2)

Three poems on different aspects; Nurses, camouflage and the sea,  lastly, flying.   There are numerous poems on Edith Cavell, I have found one on Mary Inglis but there surely must be.  The one below on ‘Red Cross Nurses’  must be a coverall.

Thomas Masson:         The Red Cross Nurses

red cross nurses

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson:   Surprise     Written on a troopship from New York to England in 1917, shortly before he was accepted for the army despite his poor eyesight (third attempt).

suspense wwg

‘On the wings of the Morning’.         By Jeffrey Day

A sudden roar, a mighty rushing sound,

A jolt or two, a smoothly sliding rise,

A tumbled blur of disappearing ground,

And then all sense of motion slowly dies.

Quiet and calm, the earth slips past below,

As underneath a bridge still waters flow.


My turning wing inclines towards the ground;

The ground itself glides up with graceful swing

And at the plane’s far tip twirls slowly round,

Then drops from sight again beneath the wing

To slip away serenely as before,

A cubist-patterned carpet on the floor.


Hills gently sink and valleys gently fill.

The flattened files grow ludicrously small;

Slowly they pass beneath and slower still

Until they hardly seem to move at all.

Then suddenly they disappear from sight,

Hidden by fleeting wisp of faded white.


The wing-tips, faint and dripping, dimly show,

Blurred by the wreaths of mist that intervene.

Weird, half-seen shadows flicker to and fro

Across the pallid fog-bank’s blinding screen.

At last the choking mists release their hold,

And all the world is silver, blue and gold.


The air is clear, more clear than sparkling wine;

Compared with this wine is a turgid brew.

The far horizon makes a clean-cut line

Between the silver and depthless blue.

Out of the snow-White level reared on high

Glittering hills surge up to meet the sky.


Outside the wind-screen’s shelter gales may race;

But in the seat a cool and gentle breeze

Blows steadily upon my grateful face,

As I sit motionless and at my ease,

Contented just to loiter in the sun

And gaze around me till the day is done.


And so I sit, half-sleeping, half awake,

Dreaming a happy dream of golden days,

Until at last, with a reluctant shake

I rouse myself, and with a lingering gaze

At all the splendour of the shining plain

Make ready to come down to earth again.


The engine stops:  a pleasant silence reigns –

Silence, not broken, but intensified

By the soft, sleepy wires’ insistent strains,

That rise and fall, as with a sweeping glide

I slither down the well-oiled sides of space,

Towards a lower, less enchanted place.


The clouds draw nearer, changing as they come,

Now, like a flash, fog grips me by the throat.

Down goes the nose:  at once the wires, low hum

Begins to rise in volume and in note,

Till, as I hurtle from the choking cloud

It swells into a scream, high-pitched and loud.


The scattered hues and shades of green and brown

Fashion themselves into the land I know,

Turning and twisting, as I spiral down

Towards the landing ground;  till, skimming low,

I glide with slackening speed across the ground,

And come to rest with a slightly grating sound.


Jeffrey Day seems to have written little else but this poem seems to have been picked up.       Incidentally,  ‘Sagittarius Rising‘  by Cecil Lewis  is considered a classic book on flying and combat in the First World War.  He also had quite  a remarkable life after the war.

tag:      War Poets






Towards Armistice Day (1)

Julian Grenfell  1888-1915     Much anthologised but a tone that would most likely have changed had he lived longer.  He opted to stay in the front line rather than move as an Aide to behind the lines of fire….. (Wrote a satirical poem on subject of Aides)

into battle

A second image of the first year of WWI.     One of the ‘Dymock’ poets recognised as one of the founders of the ‘Georgian Poets’  see links: Friends of Dymock Poets for further information and  for  site of Judy Greenway which includes contents on  Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
Used with permission of the Gibson Literary Estatetagged War Poet  and Wilfrid Wilson Gibson